Sunday, 10 January 2010

Heathcliff

For some years I have been perfectly my own mistress, subject to no control whatever; so far from it, that my sisters, who are many years older than myself, and even my own dear mother used to consult me on every occasion of importance...
It could be a quote from the fiercely independent Jane Eyre, but actually it's an extract from Maria Branwell's letter to Patrick Bronte. I'm deeply absorbed in The Life of Charlotte Bronte and intrigued by Charlotte's mother, Maria Branwell. Extracts from the letters she wrote to Patrick Bronte during the time of their engagement suggest a warm, intelligent woman, fond of reading and domesticity - she even makes her own wedding cake. Born and raised in Penzance, Cornwall, she is dismayed when her books, clothes and other belongings are conveyed by water to her new home and lost in a shipwreck. What a loss her early death must have been to her six children.

What do you think of Ruben Toledo's illustration of Heathcliff? I suspect you will either love it or hate it!

18 comments:

Eva said...

I'm on the love side of the Heathcliff illustration, but I'm really in love with that extract. Maria Branwell sounds fascinating! I'm not a big fan of Charlotte, so I don't want to read a whole biography on her, but I hope you post more passages about Maria as you come across them. ;)

E. L. Fay said...

I love it! He looks much younger than I usually picture him, though.

Christina said...

As horrible as this may sound, Heathcliff kind of looks like Edward Cullen in the movie posters for Twilight. I don't know why but that was the first thing that popped in my head.

Anyways, the extract you posted sounds wonderful. I'd love to learn more about Maria Branwell.

makedoandread said...

Hee! I'm not sure I love it, but I like this particular rendering. Emo Heathcliff. :)

Anbolyn said...

I adore the style, but it evokes vampires too strongly.

Mad Housewife said...

well, it should get the attention of younger readers! It's not my type of art but I love Wuthering Heights and this copy is probably going to be a collectible.

Connie said...

Maria Branwell is definitely going on my Awesome Ladies list.

I like the Heathcliff image. Love the vague pompadour!

callmemadam said...

I like it, though he's perhaps too romantic looking. Did the artist do the cover for Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book do you know? It looks very similar.

Rachel (Book Snob) said...

I should read the Life of Charlotte Bronte properly...it's sitting on my shelf looking unloved.

I read some of Maria's letters at the Parsonage Museum when I visited this summer...she certainly was a remarkable, intelligent woman and I'd love to read a book about her!

Bloomsbury Bell said...

Maria sounds like a fascinating woman and one who I know nothing about! I love the Brontes. Maria must have been a real influence on them - I can't think of anything worse than losing all my possessions in one fell swoop.
Heathcliff does look like a vampire in the picture.

Mae said...

I've been meaning to read Gaskell's bio of Charlotte. That quote has me even more intrigued. I don't know anything at all about their mother and it sounds like she was a strong willed woman.

Vintage Reading said...

Eva, I have to say I can't put the book down. It is full of fascinating detail about all the sisters.

E.L. Fay. Yes, I see Heathcliff and Cathy as eternally young but I can't remember if their ages are specified in WH.

Christina & Anbolyn, there's definitely a Twilight theme going on there. And I've seen some WH covers which have very similar images to the Twilight novels.

makedoandread, or Elvis Heathcliff?!

MadHousewife, I already have three editions of WH so it's not like I needed another! I like the Toledo Austen cover, too, but can't justify the expense.

Connie - yes pompadour is the word I was looking for. Kind of John Travolta in Grease!

callmemadam, no the Gamain illustrator is Riddell, although they do have a similar style.

Rachel, I'm planning a trip to the parsonage again, it's many years since I've been, I'd like to see those letters.

Bloomsbury Bell, yes, interesting that the first-born was named after Maria. Maria (the younger) had a tragic short life, too.

Mae, I would highly recommend the Gaskell biog, I can't put it down.

Cath said...

Yes, Maria Branwell's house is a beautiful old house in Chapel Street in Penzance but I don't think you can go in and tour it. I've looked at it often though and wondered how she came to meet and marry a man from Yorkshire in those days when travel was so limited.

Hannah Stoneham said...

I adore the picture - for me it really captures the Heathcliffe of my 14 year old imagination (I was 14 when I read Wuthering Height, not now!). If you are enjoying the life of Charlotte Bronte - you might enjoy "The Bronte Myth" by Lucasta Miller... happy blogging, Hannah

StuckInABook said...

Possibly nearer hate... but then I hate Heathcliff so so much that it taints anything... this guy doesn't look nearly evil enough.

claire said...

I'd say love. Absolutely love Ruben Toledo's style. I couldn't resist having this copy on my shelf as well. One can never have too many Wuthering Heights. :)
However, I feel Heathcliff isn't dark enough.

Vintage Reading said...

Cath, I'm kicking myself because I went to Penzance a couple of years ago and didn't even know Maria Branwell's house was there. I would love to have visited it.

Hannah, yes I like the picture too. Slightly pompous and overblown like Heathcliff himself.

Simon, I'm intrigued. Do you really hate Heathcliff? I kind of sympathize with him.

Claire, I already have 3 versions of WH and I've seen another one I like ...

claire said...

Haha. Which one is it that you like? I purchased my fifth copy a few weeks ago, which is this one. I know, five is too much, but I always say, my first two copies I left at my dad's and they're not even mine anymore so technically I only have three. :)